First Day Of The 83rd Texas Session, A Peek Of Things To Come - Senators Donna Campbell and Leticia Van De Putte and Rep. Joe Straus

The common outcry on behalf of human rights …
is false and illusory if the right to life … is not
defended with maximum determination.
- Blessed John Paul II, Christifideles Laici

After a two hour drive in the rain, and at times, hard rain and with low visibility, we managed to arrive on time. The Texas Capitol was filled with people waiting for the Senate and House to convene at 12:00 noon. I was looking forward to seeing Dr. Donna Campbell being sworn in as the Senator of Senate District 25 on the First Day of the 83rd Texas Session. After 20 years of having a pro choice and liberal Jeff Wentworth, I knew it would feel great! Her defeated adversary is still steaming as he has been vocal through the media that Senator Campbell will have at least three challengers in her reelection. Let me warn those challengers that you need not apply; the grassroots are behind Senator Campbell, especially if she stays focused on her conservative values.

Senator Donna Campbell looked happy and at ease in her new environment. She was open to greeting her guests and constituents by visiting and being photographed with them. Her family was present and Stan, her husband, and daughter Ashley were beaming that their hard work had led to the Texas Capitol. I recognized many of her campaign volunteers, and we were all smiling like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Sonja and Bill Harris with Senator Donna Campbell

Karen and Bob Reinarz and Ron Hicks with Senator Campbell

The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson from the Texas Supreme Court.

Senator Donna Campbell 3E.8

After the session adjourned, constituents and guests were allowed to visit their respective senators. Senator Donna Campbell welcomed visitors to her ‘office’ 3E.8. It’s a quiet place with a great view and tucked away from traffic, so she will be able to spend her time pondering over the business of Senate District 25. We may never see her desk top look this clean again! CONGRATULATIONS!

Following the swearing in of the senators, a President Pro Tempore was elected. To tell you the truth, I sat in disbelief that Senator Leticia Van de Putte was praised to the point of nausea. It was Senator Judith Zaffirini SD21 that nominated Van de Putte to be the acting governor in case the Governor and the Lt Governor are not able to be present to preside over the senate. I do want to emphasize that this position is strictly ceremonial and traditional and given to the senior senator who has not yet had a turn to be President Pro Tempore. Senators John Corona SD16, Brian Birdwell SD22, Eddie Lucio SD27 all seconded the motion, and then I lost count of how many other senators lauded this woman. It must have been a good hour of eulogizing her before the session was adjourned. It was noted that Senator Van de Putte is referred as the ‘mother figure of the senate’.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte accepting President Pro Tempore

I can’t tell you how many times the senators speaking in her behalf mentioned she held rosary prayer times and that she had a devotion to ‘saint’ Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa is often times called the ‘saint of Calcutta’ and is Blessed Mother Teresa in the Catholic Church. Van de Putte is confused or deceiving herself because on one hand she is a proponent of Planned Parenthood, and on the other hand, a Catholic and devout follower of Mother Teresa who was pro life. Quote from the book ‘Mother Teresa in my own words’, “Life is a gift that God has given us. That life is present even in the unborn. A human hand should never end a life. I am convinced that the screams of the children whose lives have been terminated before their birth reach God’s ears.” Zaffirini, listing Senator Van de Putte’s attributes, made it clear that she is a ‘Social Justice’ senator.

If you will remember Van de Putte was one of eleven senators who fled to New Mexico in a heated debate over redistricting in 2003. According to an article from the Associated Press dated 08/04/2003, Van de Putte made a rather nasty remark about the Governor she will stand in place of, “He's not the brightest porch light on the block," Ms. Van de Putte said. But, "he really looks good in jeans." Ms. Walt said Ms. Van de Putte is stooping to personal attacks to try to turn the issue away from the fact that "they ran away from their responsibilities."

Attempts to approve a redistricting bill failed during the regular legislative session and the first special session. Last week, Mr. Perry called lawmakers back for a second special session to try again. The Democrats departed for Albuquerque before he called the session. Their absence has blocked a quorum in the Senate, preventing the lawmakers who stayed in Austin from taking up business in the chamber.

Texas will soon be predominately Hispanic American, and we definitely need to address the Hispanic population before the tsunami hits, but empowering a Hispanic liberal who obviously has disdain for the way she was treated as a youth will only serve as a role model for other upcoming Latina liberals. Van de Putte had many admirers attending from her SD26 which lies mostly in San Antonio and Bexar County. This is what J. Margo Gonzales had to say about her former boss, “It has been an honor to witness the nomination and election of my former boss and my Texas State Senator, the 2nd Latina to serve as President Pro Tempore.”

Things will not change until Texans vote for conservative Latina women in the Republican Party. And isn't it about time? In the meantime this action taken by the senate most certainly be fodder for the upcoming 2014 elections. This is not such a ‘bad’ deal for a poor discriminated Latina woman who has climbed the political ladder and is now the second in Texas history to be elected to this position.

NOTE: I would like to add that SENATOR BRIAN BIRDWELL is vice chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military installations Committee of which Senator Van de Putte is Chair. Senator Birdwell was motivated in part by his service to our country and knowing the commitment that Senator Van de Putte has displayed to our veterans. Senator Birdwell and Senator Van de Putte definitely do not see eye to eye on most policy issues. The following is from the Texas Senate Journal Office Record of January 8, 2013 full text of Senator Birdwell’s nomination.

"Thank you, Mr. President. Members, I am honored today in three capacities; as my capacity as a colleague, as a sophomore in this, but most of all I rise in my capacity as a professional soldier to second the nomination of Senator Van de Putte to serve as our President Pro Tempore of the 83rd Regular Session. In my slightly less than three years of service beside Senator Van de Putte as Vice-chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, I've had the privilege to see her commitment to those who wear our nation's uniform. In fact, the very first bill I was offered the opportunity to joint-author came from her in dealing with how the remains of our fallen soldiers will be treated with respect and legal defense in Texas courts. And it was a real treat to have this be the very first bill that I put my name on in this building. During my tenure as Vice-chair, I've seen her support a number of veterans issues very passionately. She supported the property tax exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. She supported the Texas Veterans Commission, adding a women's member coordinator on staff to ensure that the special needs of our female veterans were being addressed by the Texas Veterans Commission. She supported college credit for heroes, ensuring military experiences of our veterans were translated into academic credits toward degree programs at our community, two-year and four-year institutions, and Texas state tuition rates for our servicemen and women at our higher education institutions for all active military members that had been sent to Texas on permanent change of station orders. And one that is pretty personal to me as a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, that I was very privileged to sign onto, was the discounted utility payments for our indigent veterans who had suffered severe burns and are no longer able to regulate their body temperature. Governor Dewhurst, I certainly appreciate you keeping it really cold in the Senate chamber for me. Most of all, what is most impressive, is while she has never worn the uniform of our nation's warriors, she certainly has the heart of a warrior. While Senator Van de Putte and I do not often agree on policy issues and have had our battles, and there will surely be more to come, I, and I know my other colleagues would agree, that Senator Van de Putte is not only a most-respected foe when we disagree, but there is no more highly-valued ally that you want to bring her combat power to the table when we do agree. Mr. President and Members, it is indeed my honor to second the nomination of Senator Leticia Van de Putte as President Pro Tempore of the 83rd Regular Session."

The House also elected a Speaker of the House and there was no doubt in my mind that Joe Straus would be elected. My contacts had already advised me that there were not enough votes for David Simpson and that Straus would be elected. Simpson withdrew from the race giving Straus a unanimous victory. Isn’t it time the conservatives either promote a candidate that can stand to the bitter end or demand that the Speaker of the House work with the conservatives to achieve their goals? The Democrats who are in the minority certainly do. I spoke to a very discouraged Simpson supporter, Michelle Lockhoof, and her comment to me was, “Takes the fire out of the fight.” She certainly had an accurate description of the situation. The 83rd Texas Session has started with a conservative soft whisper.

Van de Putte looks to bilingual, bipartisan Senate

“Leticia was sensitized to inequality at a young age and now she fights for social justice every day,” Zaffirini said. 


Unlike other state legislatures, the Texas Senate does not include majority or minority leaders. Instead, the President Pro Tempore is considered the second most powerful position, and can be reserved to any political party in the chamber regardless if the party is a majority or not. President Pro Tempores are usually the most senior members of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore preside when the lieutenant governor is not present or when the legislature is not in regular session. 


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